Road Salt Works. But It’s Also Bad for the Environment.

There are penalties for wildlife, too. Dr. Hintz mentioned his overview confirmed that elevated salinity ranges in freshwater ecosystems had already brought on a discount within the abundance and progress of freshwater organisms and a discount of their replica outputs.

Road salt additionally corrodes autos and bridges, inflicting $5 billion in annual repairs within the United States, in keeping with an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency. AAA suggests drivers wash and clear their autos commonly throughout winter to assist offset the consequences of highway salt and to restrict driving when salt and different de-icing chemical compounds are at their highest concentrations.

In Britain, the Salt Association mentioned that salt was the most cost effective type of de-icing materials and that it had a low environmental impression when used responsibly. “As with all highway maintenance activities, there are environmental implications from winter road maintenance,” the group mentioned in an announcement. “Highways depots, spreading vehicles and the de-icing agent all contribute, but with good management, this burden can be minimized.”

While there may be not an ideal resolution to the difficulty, there are alternate options that may considerably cut back salt utilization with out compromising driver security.

One methodology entails treating roads earlier than storms with a salt brine resolution, which might result in a 75 p.c discount within the quantity of salt used whereas protecting roads simply as secure, in keeping with the Cary Institute. Building higher salt storage websites may also decrease waste.

Some counties, like Jefferson County, Wis., have already made adjustments. Bill Kern, the county’s freeway commissioner, mentioned switching to a brine resolution had enabled the county to chop its salt use by as much as 60 p.c since 2018 with out a rise within the variety of accidents. By utilizing much less salt, the county has decreased its total value for winter upkeep of state and county highways by 20 p.c since 2018, saving about $1.6 million, Mr. Kern mentioned.

Over the previous decade, some states, together with Rhode Island, have handed laws aimed to cut back their use of highway salt and have more and more utilized a brine resolution to roads in winter, however environmentalists say extra must be finished.

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